I hired Joe to represent me for what should have been a simple case in 2015-2016. I had hired a "contractor" to construct a deck which cost me over $22,000. It was so badly constructed and unsafe it had to be torn down. I had to hire another contractor to rebuilt another deck. Instead of guiding me to take the appropriate steps prior to the deck being razed, which I specifically inquired about. He asked me about this a year later. An example was his calling me a year after the deck was torn down asking if I called the building inspector to view the deck as evidence?? This was something he should have instructed me to do. That is what I paid him for. The other thing which infuriated me was when we had a chance to settle and did not. He later called stating that the "contractor " was going to file for bankruptcy. I was never told once when someone filed for bankruptcy your chances of collecting damages are nill! These are just two examples of many!!
Joe ends up with my $2000 which he insists that you pay him upfront for a lot of bad advice. The contractor who walked away with my $22000 paid me nothing because Joe did nothing when he found out he was going to file for bankruptcy. I had to keep chasing Joe for information for months. He would not call me or keep me up to date on anything. Why should he??? He had my $2000 as a retainer. He already got paid.
I am still paying a loan on a deck that was torn down. HE COULD HAVE CARED LESS. WHEN I WOULD CALL, I WOULD BE PUT INTO VOICEMAIL. WHEN HE DID GET BACK TO ME HE WOULD ACT AS THOUGH I WAS BOTHERING HIM! HE IS A ONE MAN SHOW. GO WITH A LARGE COMPANY WITH THE MANPOWER AND REPUTATION TO BACK YOU!! Don't make the mistake I made.
Response from Joseph Daigle April 3, 2018
1. This client was aware before I was hired that the construction contractor could file for bankruptcy. When I confirmed for her that this was possible and that it was a risk for her claim, she waited more than six months before she finally decided to hire me.
2. Upon our filing the lawsuit, the contractor promptly filed for bankruptcy, stopping all litigation. I then filed a complaint in the Bankruptcy Court asserting that the contractor had committed fraud by misrepresenting his qualifications to build the deck. (Debts arising from fraudulent acts are harder to discharge in bankruptcy.)
A key to succeeding on this fraud claim was to have an expert witness who could testify that the deck was constructed in a manner that violated basic building code and construction standards. So, when the client found a qualified contractor to replace the deck with a new one, I was able to convince him to serve as our expert witnesses in the Bankruptcy Court.
When this second contractor started the work, the client raved that he was very professional, and the deck was “beautiful”. However, completion of the deck was apparently delayed because a special-order part was not delivered by a supplier for many months. This client then began accusing the new contractor of lying and she refused to pay him even though the deck was mostly complete. By the time I learned how she had been treating him, it was too late - she ruined the relationship with our key expert witness! I then suggested that the building inspector might be brought in to testify as an expert witness (a long shot). This was not the original plan, like she is claiming, and I only suggested it because I no longer had an expert who could testify about the conditions of the original decking.
3. The client claims that I had a chance to settle, but did not. I informed her by email on March 6, 2017 that the contractor’s bankruptcy attorney might offer a thousand dollars if we dropped our bankruptcy complaint. The client’s response was that she wanted to be “made whole”, i.e., all the money she had paid him, all the extra money she paid her new contractor, plus her attorney’s fees: $40,000+ - she was unwilling to negotiate for less, and the Bankruptcy Court eventually discharged the debt.
4. Most of my fee in this case was contingent – in other words, I was to receive most of my pay out of the money recovered from the contractor. I did not earn a profit on this case. For the $2,000 the client paid me: I examined the deck at the client’s home on two occasions, worked with the client’s new contractor regarding his expert witness testimony, drafted pleadings and filed a lawsuit in Superior Court (filing fees and constable - $231), drafted written discovery requests, filed a second complaint in Bankruptcy Court, corresponded with the Defendant and then his attorney on multiple occasions, attended a hearing at bankruptcy court, consulted with two separate bankruptcy attorneys regarding strategy, and wrote numerous emails to the client explaining the law and how the case was proceeding.
$2000 doesn’t begin to cover the amount of time and expense I put in to this case.